Three words I used when I watched last week’s loss to the Viking. After going two straight games with limited penalties the Giants have exploded into a penalty machine. The offense continues to struggle to find their rhythm and the defense is back to its roots of struggling to get off the field and depth at cornerback. One game is a bad day, two games now signals there are some issues that need to be addressed. I am not selling my stock in the Giants, in fact, this is a great time to start buying because their issues plaguing the Giant can be corrected. The gamble is purely on the coaching staff; can they fix the problems?
What has happened to the offense? By the third year you’d expect the system to be second hand but each week the Giants continue to regress. Last week Manning was throwing the ball into the ground, when the passes are in the air either there is confusion on the route or Manning was just missing the target. The offensive line still struggles to burst off the ball and create a running game. Last week was the first week Manning wasn’t sacked (6 on the season) but he did show signs of nervous feet before he was in danger of getting hit (see bad pass comments above).
How bad is the offense this season? The Giants are last in the NFL in 1st down production. Meaning they are either penalized, don’t gain any yards or lose yards on 1st down. A lack of production on 1st down sets up a long second down which then leads to a long third down and finally the lack of third down conversions. This could be the result of a total and lack of a running game. The Giants are 19th in the NFL in total rushing yards and 18th in yards per rush. If you can’t establish a running game, one that keeps the defense honest, then you can drop 7 into coverage and force Eli to make perfect throws. Which thus far has to lead the Giants to long third downs and is probably why they are 25th in the NFL in third-down conversions. Do you realize the Giants beat the Saints without an offensive touchdown?
Holy hell what happened to the defense. Note those who bemoan the Giants should have better depth at cornerback. When you spend $200mm on four free agents in which one is a cornerback this is what happens when there is injuries. And when there are injuries and a weakness at corner teams are going to pound. And the Vikings did exactly that on Trevin Wade. The Giants front four has been wildly underperforming over the first four weeks of the season. The Giants defense is last in the NFL on 3rd down stops, a bottom ranking team on hurries, hits and sacks. Vernon is the energizer bunny, he is on so many plays that aren’t even to his side of the ball. In fact, all the front four are hyperactive on the field but they are not being put into a situation to get the sacks they need.
Not shocking that when the Giants won the time of possession game they won. As well as when they were close to or exceed 50% of third down conversions. But since the opening game the Giants are steadily trending down on third down conversions (69% to 17%).
The Giants have a very challenging schedule ahead of them. The problems they have had over the first four weeks are correctable but there is an immediacy to fix these problems. Injury issues will always be a problem but something like unsportsmanlike penalties can be fixed as fast as the first quarter of this Sunday’s game.